The story coming out of Atlanta after the snowstorm two weeks ago was all about the influx of people onto local roads trying to get home at the same time.
With an ice storm forecast for this week and Governor Nathan Deal declaring a state of emergency for more than 40 Georgia counties in anticipation of the storm, all the Atlanta stations TVSpy spoke with said the same thing: this storm is all about power. Predictions call for ice and wind to bring down power lines and cause major power outages.
Cox owned ABC affiliate WSB, FOX owned station WAGA and Meredith’s CBS affiliate WGCL told us they were in “all-hands on-deck mode” with crews spread out across the Atlanta metro area and staffers working 12-hour shifts to cover the event with wall-to-wall coverage. But what good is all that coverage if no one can see it?
As WSB news director Mike Dreaden told us, Atlanta viewers need to make sure the batteries in their laptops, mobile devices and radios are ready to go. Like WSB, all the stations we spoke to plan on relying on their radio partners and their live streaming ability to keep viewers up-to-date in case the power goes out.
WGCL VP and GM Trey Fabacher said his station is going old school and partnering with talk radio station WGST. The AM radio station has plans to simulcast the CBS affiliate’s continuing breaking news coverage.
WAGA VP of news Mike McClain said said the station has a partnership with all-news radio station 106.7. He said the two stations sharing multimedia journalists who log stories for both radio and TV.
He also told us his station gets an enormous amount of user generated content and plans on showing it off with its Accuweather StoryTeller interactive touch screens. With the screens, the station can show viewers what’s trending on social media around Atlanta.
Dreaden’s station also has WSB radio to partner with in case the power goes down. While he told us they may not simulcast the TV station, he did say WSB plans on live streaming its signal. He said during the last storm people came to them “in droves” on the digital side, watching his station while they were stuck in their cars.
While the area took a black eye over the handling of the last storm, Fabacher told TVSpy they want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
All the stations we spoke with agreed that their coverage will keep an eye on how the Georgia Department of Transportation, or GDOT, keeps the roadways clear of ice and how the Governor and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed handle the storm.
And for those fortunate enough to have power? Plan on a lot of crews in a lot of places keeping Atlanta residents up-to-date on what’s happening. WAGA staffers stuck at the station can also look forward to McClain’s grilling skills. He told us he chef’d up a batch of hot dogs for hungry staffers today.
“At at time like this people still turn to local TV,” said Dreaden.
All the stations we spoke with said they planned on being on air continuously during the storm. WSB news director Mike Dreaden also couched it by adding, “I think the weather’s going to tell us what to do.”
TVSpy reached out to WXIA for this article but did not hear back.